Everyone nods and agrees that war is brutal; rarely is that brutality glimpsed as vividly as in Combat Diary – The Marines of Lima Company. During their 2005 tour of duty in Iraq, Lima Company–a unit of Marines, all from Ohio–lost 23 men on the front lines. Combat Diary combines footage shot by the Marines themselves with home digital cameras and interviews with many of the surviving soldiers and parents and wives of men who died. The soldier’s footage ranges from bored hijinks to actual firefights, including a troubling, surreal scene of men in full gear with rifles ready patrolling through a crowded Iraqi bazaar. In frank, uncensored language, the men describe how excitement turns to terror and misery, how their friends were shot or set on fire; but even before these jolting stories are told, the price of war can be heard in their voices and seen in their faces. This, combined with interviews with a mother who’s kept an answering machine message from her dead son and with a wife who was pregnant with her second child when she learned her husband had been killed, creates a potent documentary. Combat Duty makes no political statements; conservatives and liberals can read their own messages into the movie’s stark, simple remembrances. But every American should watch Combat Diary and see, in the eyes of these men, what happens on the ground when a nation decides to go to war.
Chelovek s kino-apparatom / Man with a Movie Camera (1929) Dziga Vertov, Mikhail Kaufman, Documentary
Soviet director Dziga Vertov’s experimental film grew out of his belief, shared by his editor, Elizaveta Svilova (who was also his wife), and his cinematographer, Mikhail Kaufman (also his brother), that the true goal of cinema should be to present life as it is lived. To that end, the filmmakers offer a day-in-the-life portrait of a city from dawn until dusk, though they actually shot their footage in several cities, including Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa. After an opening statement, there are no words in the film (neither voice-over nor titles), just dazzling imagery, kinetically edited – as a celebration of the modern city with a marked emphasis on its buildings and machinery. The Image Entertainment DVD edition of the film offers a musical score composed from notes left by the director, which adds greatly to the impact of the film.
In Saint Petersburg in Russia, there still exists communal apartments, vestiges of the Soviet system. People from all backgrounds and social classes are gathered together here, due to circumstance. They form a cross-section of Russian society grouped together in the same place. Kommunalka is a-slice-of-life portrait of a communal apartment in Sovetskaya Street.
Verbotene Filme / Forbidden Films (2014) Felix Moeller, Götz Aly, Stefan Drössler, Jörg Jannings, Documentary
1,200 feature films were made in Germany’s Third Reich. According to experts, some 100 of these were blatant Nazi propaganda. Nearly seventy years after the end of the Nazi regime, more than 40 of these films remain under lock and key. Director Felix Moeller (Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Süss) interviews German film historians, archivists and filmgoers in an investigation of the power, and potential danger, of cinema when used for ideological purposes. Utilizing clips from the films and recorded discussions from public screenings (permitted in Germany in educational contexts) in Munich, Berlin, Paris and Jerusalem, Moeller shows how contentious these 70-year-old films remain, and how propaganda can retain its punch when presented to audiences susceptible to manipulation.
Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie (2009) Michelle Esrick, Larry Brilliant, Hugh Romney, Documentary
Wavy Gravy is known as the MC of the Woodstock festival, a hippie icon, activist, clown, and even a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. In SAINT MISBEHAVIN’ we meet a true servant to humanity who carries his message through humor, compassion and a song he wrote called “Basic Human Needs”. SAINT MISBEHAVIN’ weaves together intimate vérité footage, reflections from an array of cultural and counter-cultural peers, and a rich collection of never-before-seen archival footage to tell a story that is bigger than the man himself.
Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West (2013) Stan Moore, John Gray, David Kupelian, Ion Mihai Pacepa, Documentary, History, News
WND Films and Emmy-winning filmmaker Stan Moore present a riveting new feature-length film documentary, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West.” It’s the amazing true story of a top Soviet bloc spy chief who, at great risk, left the “dark side” to shine a light on the greatest source of political evil in today’s world. Living in the U.S. under a protected identity due to assassination threats, Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa reveals the secret strategies that, to this day, are undermining and destroying Western civilization. The documentary includes rare interviews, dramatic footage and high-level insider information.